Start Your Post-State Fair Diet with Killer Veggie Dishes at Wayward Sons
Shakshuka — "a mixture" — originated in North Africa and consists of eggs cooked atop a sauce of tomatoes and red peppers. The versions are endless, but Wayward opts for a super light and verdant rendition, with diced tomatoes and peppers swimming in their own juices, a generous slug of olive oil and bronze fennel.
It had been a long day at the State Fair of Texas. My friends and I tried the fried jambalaya (meh), fried clam chowder (tasty), fried PB&J (even better than the original!) and fried brownies (decadent). By dinnertime, we were feeling a little queasy and not at all hungry.
“What should we eat?” I asked.
Everyone answered in unison: “Vegetables.”
And so we headed to Wayward Sons and its inadvertent but flawless cure to State Fair food. This nearly year-old Greenville Avenue spot is serving some of the best veggie dishes in town.
That night, we set upon our greens with abandon. When the restaurant’s goat cheese grits landed on the table, topped with mushroom ragout, someone said, “Wow, I need to start making better grits.” And then there was the scene-stealer: a late-season tomato salad.
The tomatoes themselves formed a veritable rainbow of greens, oranges, yellows and reds. They were exquisite, ultra-fresh and divine on their own. But chef Graham Dodds and his crew made tasteful additions: pencil shaving-thin pickled peppers to provide just a little tang, ultra-fresh local mozzarella and a discreet quantity of basil. Together the flavors sang in gentle, reassuring harmony. The words they sang: “Everything will be okay. Your post-fair diet will be delicious.”
Addicted, I returned to try another salad, but got distracted by a vegetable-laden main course. Wayward Sons released their new fall menu last week, but before they did, I tried fettuccine made in-house with spinach in the dough, tossed in a faux “alfredo sauce” of corn purée and topped with baby squash and wild mushrooms. The pasta is divine: fresh noodles with snap and al dente texture, a balance of earthy mushrooms and sweetcorn, ultra-tender squash diced fine. The corn was nearly as rich and creamy as real cream sauce; only guilt was missing.
I was in heaven, and in health, both at the same time. How does that even happen? The restaurant works that same magic at weekend brunch, with its plate of shakshuka (pictured above), a riot of bright colors. With fresh late-season tomatoes, mozzarella and a light dressing, it has a similar starting point to dinnertime's tomato salad, but this is brunch, so there's an egg in there too, and pesto made from leafy carrot tops.
Chef Dodds and his crew know the arcane alchemical secrets of making good-for-you foods taste compulsively delicious. So, when Fletcher’s stops dispensing its corny dogs and you feel like having a few veggies before Halloween candy and pumpkin pie descend upon us, stop by Wayward Sons and order some salads and greens. They’re even more addicting than fried butter.
Wayward Sons, 3525 Greenville Ave., waywarddallas.com. Grits $9, tomato salad $10, vegetable fettuccine $18, shakshouka $12.
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